Monday, December 24, 2012


Hello my loyal readers!

Just a quick note to say I hope that everyone has an amazing Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Thank you all for welcoming me into the world of blogging and thank you for reading my blog, taking my pageviews to over 20,000 in just a few months! :D

Your very affectionate friend,
post signature

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Jane!

This post is a few days late but I couldn't let Miss Austen's 237th birthday pass without mentioning it!

Thank you Miss Austen for all the wonderful novels you have given us and I hope you know how popular you really are and how many avid supporters, AKA Janeites, you have and how grateful the Austen community is to you!

I hope that her popularity continues to grow and grow, just as it has done, for generations to come!

Her novels will always feature at the top of my 'favourite books' list. Her delightful characters, intriguing stories and quick and clever wit are what make Jane Austen my favourite author.  These wonderful novels also give us important and interesting incite into the world she lived and wrote in!

(I really want this cake for my birthday...              -> )


Your affectionate friend,

post signature

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Darcy's vs. Collins's Proposals

This is another of my essays I wrote when I studied Pride and Prejudice last year which I have adapted, a little, into a blog post about Darcy and Collins's proposals. 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife’ - one of the most famous openings to one of the most famous novels of all time.  It is referring to one the major themes in pride and prejudice – marriage, and the importance of it! This theme is the cause of a lot of the events which take place throughout the novel. Two of the major events which are a result of this theme would have to be Mr Darcy's (first) and Mr Collins's proposals!

Both proposals are quite similar. Both the addressers assume Lizzy is going to accept.  Collins is Lizzy’s cousin and Mr. Bennet’s estate, where she lives, is entailed to Collins which is one of the main reasons, if not THE main reason (but the Lady Catherine reason he also put rather high on his lists of reasons!), why he assumes she’ll accept him and why he asks her in the first place - he does know how to flatter the ladies!  He believes that because marrying him will keep the estate in the family, and therefore helping the rest of Lizzy's family, this should be reason enough for her to accept him and “impossible” to not agree, especially as is would secure a safe future for her and her family, so why would she refuse?


Darcy’s proposal is similar in that he talks about how advantageous a marriage between them would be and not only for Lizzy herself, but again for her family.  He explains how the connections he has will be very beneficial to her family, which he doesn't hesitate to conceal what he thinks of their low status and poor connections!  He also adds how his wealth will be of great help to her as he knows she is never to inherit a large fortune, which maybe wasn't the best way to phrase it ;)  Collins also talks about money as he says that marrying him will provide sufficiently well enough for them as he  also knows how she will not be entitled to much on her father’s death.  In this way, both Collins and Darcy are very (I don't like to say this but at this point it is true >.<) arrogant and confident in assuming her acceptance and they also both talk about the advantages to her family which, in their opinions, make it seem too good an opportunity to miss, and everyone is pining over Darcy aren't they? Well Darcy thought so! They pretty much place the advantages to her family over the advantages to her, and neither of them consult Lizzy’s own feelings and think about what she wants, and her own happiness!

The 'form' of Darcy’s proposal to Lizzy is very different, even though the underlying assumption is nearly the same as in Collins.  Darcy’s feelings for Elizabeth are very real  and genuine, whereas Collins doesn’t feel for Lizzy at all - no one can disagree with me on that point! Darcy, instead of beginning his proposal by stating his reasons for marriage (does that ring a bell?), he immediately tells Lizzy that he is in love with her and then continues onto the advantages of the match and making it clear that him marrying her is a big sacrifice on his part, what with her small fortune and low connections and all! What a sacrifice on his part...  Collins, on the other hand, launches straight into why he wants (and needs!) to get married and why, in particular, he has picked such a wife from among the Bennet daughters! (Luckily he doesn't quite go as far to mention how Jane was actually his first choice...)

The proposals are also very similar because, because of their arrogance, they don’t particularly flatter her; her beauty or her intelligence or... her at all! Darcy says that he didn’t want to hide his struggles and flatter her because “disguise is in every way my abhorrence” and Collins doesn’t mention any particular reason why he has chosen Lizzy, just told her the general reason for marriage and why he picked one from the Longbourne household - great reasons! Collins is quite rude to Lizzy, perhaps unintentionally (perhaps not...), when he says “it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made you” and when he talks about needed a “useful wife” who is “not brought up to highly”!  Darcy is also insulting towards her family and in regards to Jane as Bingley as he rejoices in his success of splitting them up! (That was not the right road to go down ;) )
A difference though, is that Lizzy did have some idea of Collins intention to marry her before he actually proposed whereas she had no idea with Darcy as she believed that he disliked her as much as she did him!  Also, Collins never says to Lizzy that he loves her (as he doesn’t!) whereas Darcy does; “how much I admire and love you.”  Lizzy is not worried about refusing Collins and doesn’t feel guilty when refusing him, whereas to start with she is worried about the pain she would cause in refusing Darcy - until he insults her and then that feeling of guilty is quickly removed!   Also, Darcy wants Lizzy to marry him because he does truly loves her so it is what HE wants, not Lady Catherine (Lady Catherine definitely doesn't want Darcy to marry Lizzy!), but one of Collins main objectives is to please Lady Catherine, not himself, or even Lizzy!
 It is again made clear that Darcy feels for Lizzy and Collins doesn’t as before Darcy proposed he “sat down for a few moments and then getting up walked about the room” in an “agitated manner” because he is very nervous about proposing to her as he really loves her (which I find so sweet!), on the other hand Collins seems very relaxed and not nervous at all when he proposes to Lizzy and he pretty much just launched straight into it!

Lizzy, to both proposals, rejects immediately.  Collins, to start with, will not accept her refusal because he believes “it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies for their favour; and that sometimes the refusal is repeated a second or even a third time.”  (I didn't know that was the normal for young ladies?) Darcy accepts that she has said no, (just about!), but wishes to know why.  So therefore, after her rejection, neither proposers leave straightaway after being rejected. 

Collins explains how he is sure they will be married before long, not taking no for an answer, and Darcy wants to know why he is rejected; “I might, perhaps, wish to be informed why, with so little endeavour at civility, I am thus rejected”.   However, Lizzy is much more rude and insulting in rejecting Darcy than Collins as, although she says it would be “impossible” for her to accept Collins and soon after walks out on him (which is so funny and Lizzy was also enjoying this refusal!), with Darcy she insults his character very powerfully when she says (one of my favourite ever lines!) "From the very beginning, from the first moment I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form that ground-work of disapprobation, on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry." (What a put down, but this was definitely not as enjoyable for her as it was refusing Collins!) On hearing this Darcy leaves Lizzy, whereas Lizzy leaves Collins.  When Darcy has left, “she knew not how to support herself, and from actual weakness sat down and cried for half an hour,” as Lizzy has been much more affected by the manner of Darcy’s proposal than by Collins’s, even though she was upset by Collin’s a little (but I think she was more entertained!), not nearly as much in comparison.   

Another similarity is that before both proposals, Lizzy dislikes both men.  Her opinion of Collins doesn’t change after the proposal (I wonder why?), whereas after Darcy's proposal it does and Darcy begins to improve in her estimation as she finds out some of the reasons that she held against him and therefore contributing to her choice of refusing him, turned out to be false - that letter is so important!
I think that Austen makes you more sympathetic towards Darcy, as he does love Lizzy and she refuses him in a pretty harsh way! Collins however, she makes you laugh at Lizzy's refusal!  You don't feel sorry for Collins at all because he isn’t in love with Lizzy and Austen has portrayed Collins as a laughable and pompous character earlier in the novel, making the reader more likely pleased (and entertained) than upset when he is rejected! 

Unlike Darcy, Collins just wants a “useful wife.” At the beginning of Pride and Prejudice, Austen describes Darcy as an incredibly proud man.  She makes you take Lizzy’s view and therefore dislike him, but after the proposal, you might (and should a little) feel sorry for Darcy because Lizzy was so harsh! 

Austen makes Collins seem equally as undesirable and arrogant as she does Darcy but your opinion of Darcy will is likely to change (again, it should!) after his proposal compared to Collins. Your opinion of Collins after his proposal won't as he is such a comic character! Lizzy can do much better and will be better of without him! Not to mention the fact that he shortly after proposes to Charlotte Lucas, proving he never felt for Lizzie in the slightest, which couldn't have been any more obvious anyway! 

An interesting point I think is that Austen contrasts the style of both proposals.  Darcy’s proposal and the conversation between them consists of many short sentences; Darcy is finding the whole experience difficult (bless!) and the conversation is very tense and quickly moving backward and forward between them! Whereas Collins uses long, boring sentences (reflecting his character ;) ) 

In addition, Austen builds up the reader to be expecting both these refusals.  Collins is such a silly man and you know Lizzy dislikes him, a lot, and they also know that Lizzy’s view on marrying for love is very important to her and she is known to be very strong willed so not likely to drop her opinion and sacrifice her chance of happiness easily! Darcy has at this point in the novel been shown to be proud and disagreeable, and again, you know Lizzy does not like him at all and as we see everything from Lizzy's point of view, we will therefore dislike him as well, especially with regards to Jane and Bingley and Wickham’s 'tragic' past (*rolls eyes!* but then we are likely to believe this story to be true as at this point Lizzy believes it and likes Wickham, so we are likely to as well!)  Therefore, you would be glad that Lizzy doesn’t accept Collins or Darcy, but are more likely to be upset that she doesn’t accept Darcy’s offer of marriage because they know it was genuine.  But, I am sure most people (woman at least!) would understand (and agree!) with Lizzy’s reason for rejecting him - every girl wants a romantic proposal, Darcy's second proposal springs to mind ;)

Despite his selfishness and pride Darcy really does love Lizzy, whereas Collins definitely does not! But, he made the fatal error, just like Collins, of assuming that Lizzy would marry anyone if it offered her security, money and comfort and was also very advantageous for not only her, but her family as well.  It proves that Lizzy does not agree with the ‘rule’ of marrying as quickly as possible to secure a good future without consulting her own feelings in the matter, again making Lizzy very different to how woman were expected to act and behave during the regency period, and making her such a strong (and my favourite) heroine! 

Your affectionate friend,

post signature

Monday, December 10, 2012

Amanda Grange's Diary Series

After reading the classic novels by Jane Austen, I was doing some research and came across these diaries by Amanda Grange. I had also heard about them by word of mouth and so I finally decided to read them. I was weary of them, as I am with all continuations or sequels, because I worry that the original stories will be ruined as to catch the true Austen feel and capture her iconic characters is a big ask! But, I was not disappointed and I am so glad I did read them! And I will be re-reading them shortly I am sure! They are a 'must-read' when I re-read any of the original novels!  

Grange has written 7 diaries, 6 of which I have read; (There are various covers!)

~ Mr Darcy's Diary(/Darcy's Diary)

Have you ever wondered what Darcy was really thinking throughout Pride and Prejudice, or what he thought about Miss Caroline Bingley's continuous attentions!? Or have you ever wanted to know what happens to the Darcy's, after they are married?

~ Colonel Brandon's Diary

Have you ever wanted to know the true Brandon, and what happened with his beloved Eliza? Or have you always wondered what that letter taking him immediately to London really said? Did you ever want to see more of Brandon and Marianne's courtship, and maybe even the proposal?

~ Mr Knightley's Diary

Have you ever wondered about when Knightley began to realise his feelings for Emma? Or how he began to realise? Or how about seeing the true feelings he felt whilst Frank Churchill was winning his Emma?

~ Captain Wentworth's Diary

Haven't you always wanted to see more into the past of these two lovers, and actually seen their courtship the 8 years before the novel begins? Or have you ever wondered what Wentworth really thought about the Musgroves? And who doesn't want to know what was going through Wentworth's mind while writing that famous letter?

~ Henry Tilney's Diary

Have you ever wondered what Tilney was like when he was younger, when his mother was alive? Or have you ever wanted to know more about Eleanor romance? Or seen more into the mind of the hilarious Tilney whilst he was teasing the naive Catherine?

~ Edmund Bertram's Diary

Did you ever wish that you could see more into Bertram's world, and see what he really thought of the Crawfords? Or when he finally realised who the real Mary was, and how the perfect woman was right under his nose all along? Or how about more into their eventual courtship?

~ Wickam's Diary (a novella, which I have on my shelf to read!)

"At university Darcy and Wickham grow apart. Wickham runs through the money Darcy gives him and then takes up with the scandalous Belle. After Belle and Wickham run through a small fortune gambling and cavorting, Wickham turns to Anne de Bourgh to replenish his coffers. But the lady is not at home, and Wickham follows her and her money to Bath. Once there he bumps into Belle again, who is now a companion to Georgiana Darcy. With Belle's help, Wickham sees his opening to seduce the young Miss Darcy and secure the fortune he's always dreamt of. Darcy swoops in to foil the elopement at the last minute, leaving Belle and Wickham fleeing his wrath. Penniless, Wickham is encouraged to enlist by one of his friends. The novella ends just before he meets the Bennets and just before the opening of Pride and Prejudice." (Amazon)

~ I am also looking forward to reading (also on my shelf waiting!) Dear Mr Darcy, her latest book.

"An imaginative epistolary retelling of Jane Austen's classic romance and comedy of manners Pride and Prejudice. Amanda Grange's fresh re-imagination of the world of Pemberley and Longbourn views it through the eyes of the classically compelling romantic hero: Fitzwilliam Darcy. The story unfolds in a series of revealing letters from the death of Darcy's beloved father and dealings with the scandalous Mr Wickham to his future with the spirited Elizabeth Bennet." (Amazon)

I couldn't recommend these books more and they do not ruin the originals, well they didn't for me!

Hope my little hints, ideas and questions have got you hooked, or at least interested! ;)

Has anyone read any of these already? What did you think?

Your affectionate friend,
post signature

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Hero Poll Winner!

I have been doing various polls over the last few months to find out people's favourite characters. Thank you for all voting! The first one has finished, the heroes!!

And the winner is....

Mr Darcy!

Next up will be the heroines! Sorry for my lack of posts recently, school has been hectic but I will definitely be doing some over Christmas!

Your affectionate friend,
post signature

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mansfield Park 1999

I have, for many months, been avoiding this version of Mansfield Park. I had been doing this because...

1. I had heard it was a complete and utter travesty and nothing like the original novel,
2. I wasn't sure how an Austen adaptation could be rated a 15 (!!!), and
3. The opinions and reviews I had read about it made it sound like a really awful film.
But, I wanted to have a version of Mansfield Park which I would choose to watch. After reading the novel, I soon after watched the 2007 version with Billie Piper, and I hesitate to call it an adaptation of the novel...

It was so short, meaning the story was barely recognisable and the way it was edited missed out so many major points in the plot; such as the trip to Portsmouth and her coming-out ball (which turned into a picnic!) As well the plot being completely mashed up, I didn't think the acting was all that special and I think just to try and get a novel the length of Mansfield Park down to an hour and a half film is just not possible! (Its not too bad if I watch it and think of it as a film based on Mansfield Park instead of an adaptation of the novel!)
A few weeks later I saw the BBC series made in 1983. This was a long series (over 5 hours!) and sometimes you could tell it was made a little while ago (the camera work or the sets) and the acting was a little stiff from time to time. Otherwise, I thought it wasn't bad. It was very accurate, which I liked, and on the whole, not bad. So, this one became my favourite adaptation. But, its too long to watch in an evening! So, a few weeks after, I thought I would give the 1999 version a shot, especially as the complete film was on YouTube in parts ;) And, I was pleasantly surprised. 

Firstly, the plot and accuracy to the novel.  I was surprised. It was edited, of course as it is only a 2 hour film, but it was edited well, and they most important parts were kept in, I think. The parts that were included were very accurate and it was much more recognisable as Mansfield Park!

Next, the actors. I thought everyone acted there parts very well.
I really enjoyed the performance from Frances O' Connor. Her portrayal of Fanny was, I will admit, a little more confident than she appears in the novel, but I thought it was an interesting take on her character and I really enjoyed it.
I also thought the performance from Johnny Lee Miller as Edmund Bertram was brilliant! I think what I particularly liked was that at the beginning, before he became completely besotted with Mary Crawford, he didn't act as though he was completely ignorant of Fanny, and there was a hint of the strong admiration he had for her, which I think helped in making the realisation of his real love Fanny more realistic and not so sudden.
All the other characters were well portrayed as well!

There were 2 scenes which is what I think makes the rating a 15. These did not ruin the film for me.

The music was lovely in this version, as was the scenery and the sets. So, overall, it was a great film and a great adaptation of Mansfield Park I thought, and I now have a version of Mansfield Park I can watch in an evening, and would choose to watch.

What did you think of it? I know some might disagree with me!

Your affectionate friend,
post signature

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Why do we love Jane Austen?

Jane Austen's works are some of the most widely read of all English Literature. They have been translated into 35 different languages and still continue to grow in popularity.

There are many different reasons why Ms. Austen's work is so popular and loved among such a wide ranging variety of people.

Firstly, it would be that her novels are, in a word, satisfying!

Anybody with a romantic bone in their body (every bone in mine is romantic ;)) will love a happy ending, and this is what Ms. Austen's work gives us! Thinking mainly of her 6 major novels, in each one, the hero, after many trials and tribulations, gets the heroine! However 'predictable' some people will say her writing is, the road to the happy ending is never predictable and often very bumpy! And I think, even if you can guess how it is all going to turn out, part of the fun is knowing how it will get there, and anyway, what's wrong with having a happy ending? We all want one, deep down!

I find that if we are given what we want, it leaves you feeling happy, which is always a great way to finish a book :)

A few of my favourite romantic quotes would have to be... (and this is just a very few!)

From Pride and Prejudice;
"Such I was, from eight to eight and twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You shewed me how insufficient were all my pretencions to please a woman worthy of being pleased."

And from Persuasion;
"You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago ... I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan."

And lastly from Emma;
"My dearest Emma, for dearest you will always be, whatever the event of this hour's conversation, my dearest, most beloved Emma--tell me at once ...
I cannot make speeches, Emma: If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more."

Another reason why the novels are so popular would have to be the humour!

When reading one of the novels, it is always fun to experience a character such as Mr Collins, Mr Woodhouse or even Mr Tilney! The humour and wit of her characters is evident throughout all 6 of her novels and contribute greatly to the overall effect. This wonderfully clever humour helps to keep a light and upbeat feel to the novel and the witty dialogue shared between the characters is really very entertaining! It just makes you smile or even laugh out loud, which is always a sign of a good book!

Now for a few funny quotes... (and there are plenty to choose from!)

From Northanger Abbey;
"A woman, especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can."

And from Emma;
"I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal."

And one from Mansfield Park;
"An engaged woman is always more agreeable than a disengaged. She is satisfied with herself. Her cares are over, and she feels that she may exert all her powers of pleasing without suspicion. All is safe with a lady engaged; no harm can be done."

And of course there are some great moments of humour between the characters. Here is just one example from Pride and Prejudice, and you are almost sorry for Mr Collins at this point;
"Judge very properly, and it is happy for you that you posses the talent of flattering with delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study?"

Another great aspect to her novels has to be Ms. Austen's wonderful talent for characterisation!

All her characters are so well thought through and we learn about them through their actions or what they say, without the need to be told directly about each person. She covers everything from the dashing hero to the witty heroine, from the scheming Aunt to the innocent friend! Each character has an important part to play in the stories, and even the less important ones still are made to seem necessary for your enjoyment of the story, and this is due to Ms. Austen's talent! She can see past the social masks worn by many during the era to the real person behind the mask, to there true opinions and motivations! And, I'm sure we can all say we know someone like Mrs Bennet, or Isabella Thorpe or even Mr Collins!

Some of my favourite characters have to be...

(ok, predictable!) Miss Elizabeth Bennet, from Pride and Prejudice.
I think anyone could realise why I like her; she is such a likable character!
Her quick humour, witty remarks and general playful, good-natured impertinence make her stand out from society (and appeal to the dashing Mr Darcy!)

A couple of my favourite quotes of hers would be...

"There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me."

"You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure."

"There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense."

Another favourite character of mine would have to be Mr Henry Tilney, from Northanger Abbey. He is such a funny character, with the way he makes fun of society and its silly ways as well as the way he teases the naive Catherine Morland. He also shows a great love and affection towards his sister, and of course Catherine!

Some great quotes would be...

"This is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed."

"You feel, as you always do, what is most to the credit of the human nature."

"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."

They are two great characters and I love pretty much all of the heroes and heroines. And as for the more minor characters, there are some great characters to be found there as well!

A few of my favourites there would be...
Jane Bennet; she is just so lovely!
Mr Woodhouse; if maybe a little annoying at times, he is still very sweet!
Eleanor Tilney; she seems like such a nice sister and her relationship with her brother is great!

And lets not forget the 'baddies'...
Mr Wickham; king of the 'bad boys' in my opinion and I love to hate him!
Caroline Bingley; she needs to back off Darcy and back off Elizabeth, she is such a spiteful character!
Mr Elton; such a slimy character! And why he ever thought he could get Emma I do not know!

And lastly, of the reasons I am going to mention, (I know I have left many out, these are my main reasons!) would be the stories themselves!

Each story is very different from the others and each is so complex that changing a single event in any of the stories would have a huge impact on the rest of the story!

Just imagine if Lizzy had never run into Darcy at Pemberley, how would she have seen the reformed Darcy and grown to realise he was the one for her?

Or what if Wentworth had never gone back into the room 'to collect his gloves'? Would Anne have found the letter?

As well as the complexity of the plots, they are also never boring with something or someone new coming along or an important twist in the plot just around the corner!

So, there are a very few reasons why I love Jane Austen's amazing writing, and I'm sure why so many others adore her as well! (And I haven't even touched on the locations, the mocking of the social graces of the time, the irony or the wonderful way in which she can still, today, transport us into the wonderful regency world through her wonderful writing!) Why do you love Jane?

Your affectionate friend,
post signature